Nov. 5

Friday seemed less frantic than the previous two days, but it was nevertheless a rewarding time.

We started with a breakfast in the Grand Entrance Hall of the Supreme Court of Canada. By now it was getting almost routine to be feted in such grand style! As you can see below, the SCC is in a beautiful building west of Parliament Hill. There are only three court rooms inside: one for the Supreme Court, and two for the Federal Court, which deals with issues strictly within federal jurisdiction (eg. patent and maritime laws, civil action against the federal government, etc.). We were very fortunate to have Justice Beverly McLachlin, who will be the next Chief Justice, address our Institute. She had agreed to speak to us before her appointment was announced, so it was a real coup to have her speak with us. A number of teachers, including myself, were able to "address the court" by asking Justice McLachlin a question at the front podium. She handled our questions with the tact and diplomacy one would expect of a Chief Justice designate.

After lunch we moved on to the special issue seminar. I decided to go with the Mock Parliament seminar provided by the Alberta government and presented by Colleen Cameron. We learned in the best way - by "doing" a mock trial. I had fun playing the Sergeant-at-Arms; somebody had to protect Tim K. (our newly wealthy "Speaker") from all those teacher/politicians. It was a good professional development session because we were able to experience what our students would encounter. It made the session really enjoyable and I'm looking forward to using the mock parliament package in my classroom.

We then had a session with the clerks of the Parliament, Paul Belisle and Robert Marleau. We were able to ask many of the questions we had developed over the week (eg. about M.P. pensions and Parliamentary reform) and they answered them candidly and honestly. Mr. Marleau, the clerk of the House of Commons, made an interesting point about the parliamentary form of government. He argued that Canada has a government "in" the Parliament (that is, a government of confidence and accountability), while the Americans have a government "of" the Parliament (that is, a government of negotiation and veto). Both are preferable to a government "despite" the Parliament (eg. Russia), or a government without a Parliament (ie. a dictatorship). That was a succinct and pithy comparison that I will use for a long time.

Finally, we had a very special Honours Banquet in the evening. I'll let the pictures at the bottom tell the story.

Bye for now!

The Supreme Court of Canada as seen from Parliament Hill.


The Grand Entrance Hall of the Supreme Court.


An older style of Supreme Court robe. It was made out of the same felt as a billiard table. I wonder if any lawyer got snookered in court?


Justice McLachlin addresses the Teacher's Institute in the court room of the Supreme Court.


Tim Krutzmann and I kept the hooligans of the mock Parliament in check. Remember, the mace is always placed on the RIGHT shoulder, not the left! And be careful with the sword.


The Honours Banquet in the Parliamentary restaurant was truly a feast for royalty. Mr. Parent gave his final good-bye to the 1999 Institute and we concluded with a stirring (and bilingual) rendition of "Oh, Canada." It was a night when I felt truly proud and grateful to be a Canadian.